I’ve often wondered why certain people get elevated in the Christian music world. Sometimes it’s obvious: a great songwriter writes great songs for the church, or a musician with a knack for brilliant musical ideas becomes a go-to producer. But sometimes I wonder if it’s just a matter of preparedness; the ability to not only rise to the occasion but also, somehow, seemingly be ready for it before it gets there!
Scriptural context for today: Joshua 1. Moses has died, and God comes to Joshua to tell him what’s next. God didn’t ask if he was ready for the task, He didn’t tell him to go fast and prepare, He just told him to be courageous, go and do. I think this speaks to Joshua’s readiness for the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land!
So what does that look like for you and me?
In certain seasons of my life, I found myself picking up my guitar only to learn songs, or for the actual rehearsal for a weekend service. That’s right; Sunday I would put it away and the next time it got picked up was the following Saturday’s soundcheck! (Not one of my prouder moments.) Did I pull it off? Maybe. Was I the best-prepared musician in the room? Definitely not! And I didn’t give my best to the people I led in the band or the congregation during that time either. But why? Because I didn’t prioritize preparation. I rested on the thought that, “I don’t need to practice, I already know these songs.”
Some of you can check out on this paragraph; you’ve got your gear dialed in, everything is labeled, and that’s the way you like it. I applaud you! The rest of us, however… Well, let’s just admit we have some work to do in that area! I know you’ve put it off, but ideally, when you walk in to rehearsal, you’re ready to play, and do it well! From a leader’s perspective, I respect people who aren’t fumbling with their gear all the way through soundcheck. It helps me feel at ease knowing I can most likely trust them to know their parts if they know their gear. And from a player’s perspective, I’m very aware of that perception as well. I want the leader to know I’m not going to bail out on parts and that he can count on me. If my gear is falling apart or I’m connecting pedals on the fly and changing batteries and borrowing cables, then I’m not giving him or her the impression that I’m really ready to be trusted with leading well.
If my gear is falling apart or I’m connecting pedals on the fly and changing batteries and borrowing cables, then I’m not giving him or her the impression that I’m really ready to be trusted with leading well.
Back to Joshua for a minute! While he was serving as Moses’ assistant, Joshua also spent time with God, and there’s a small part of a verse in Exodus that talks about this:
“When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” Ex 33:11 (ESV)
This speaks to where Joshua’s heart was – he wanted to spend time with God! And I believe most of his ready-state for leading the people can be attributed to this priority of staying before God, keeping his heart in line with what He wanted, and learning how to be who God wanted him to be. And while he might have been afraid (God did tell him to be courageous THREE times!), he was ready when the time came.
I think the application is that all these things are important when it comes to being prepared and ready for whatever God wants to do with you. Whether that’s leading your congregation of 30 or 3,000, the challenge is that we must be prepared to do it. That great songwriter didn’t just decide one day to be great, he wrote hundreds of songs you’ll never hear because he was committed to writing better songs. That producer extraordinaire? He honed his craft on whatever he could find to do and did it with all his might.
For us as guitarists, here’s your assignment: see if one of these areas resonates with you and work on that this week. Then let’s make a collective resolve to be as prepared as possible for this coming weekend and give God the best offering of worship we can in the months ahead!